MassMutual Showcases “Innovation Rooted in Tradition” During 2023 Learning Experience

BOSTON, MA — On Thursday, June 1, 2023, over 30 current Fellows and Alumni gathered at MassMutual’s Boston campus to learn how the 172-year-old company has grown, adapted, and remained true to its purpose since its 19th-century founding.

The prior evening, several attendees kicked off the experience in true Boston style: a welcome reception at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox took on the Cincinnati Reds. Peanuts, hot dogs, and all-American merriment were had by all. LCLD Member Mike O’Connor, General Counsel of MassMutual, made a special appearance, cheering on the Red Sox alongside the Fellows and Alumni.

On Thursday morning, Mike once again joined the group for breakfast and coffee on the company’s 13th floor overlooking Boston Harbor, staying throughout the day to engage with attendees and hear from the speakers and panelists.

Amy Jamrog, Founder & CEO of The Jamrog Group, introduced the group to MassMutual from the perspective of a financial planning firm. Amy shared personal stories from her career journey as an LGBTQ+ woman in the financial sector, resulting in an all-woman team committed to breaking tradition in favor of fresh ideas. MassMutual, Amy said, shares this dedication to “cutting-edge, innovative” approaches with an “open architecture” for finding solutions—evinced, in part, by the company’s role as a “trusted expert in LGBTQ+ financial planning” since before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.

MassMutual’s Pia Flanagan, Head of Mass Markets, and Sucharita Varanasi, Head of Public Policy, hosted a session on business and policy strategies. They discussed the crucial role of innovation in informing MassMutual’s strategies over the decades, as well as the challenges modern companies face: responding to conflicting stakeholder demands, keeping up with the 24-hour news cycle, and providing equitable opportunities for a newly dispersed workforce. At MassMutual, the principles that guide approaches these challenges can be summed up in what Pia called “the four Es”—education, economic empowerment, and equitable opportunity—and the question, “What is our ‘why’?”

Next on the agenda, Mohammed Dastigir, Head of FinTech & HealthTech Partnerships, Ecosystem Development, welcomed attendees to the MassChallenge floor: the hub of the nonprofit accelerator for “high-impact startups with bold, disruptive ideas from non-traditional backgrounds.” MassChallenge employs a “unique equity-free model” to connect these startups with the experts, corporations, and communities that can help them “grow and transform business and economies.” Attendees enjoyed several presentations, colloquially described as “reverse–Shark Tank,” from startup founders across industries before taking a tour of the MassChallenge floor, where entrepreneurs were actively working to develop their ventures.

After breaking for a group photo and networking lunch, Fellows and Alumni attended a panel comprising MassMutual’s Marc Maier, Data Science; Sherriff Balogun, Head of Product and Platform Technology; and 2019 Fellow Kady von Schoeler, Enterprise Technology & Experience, Chief of Staff and Head of Strategy & Governance. Matt Myers, Head of Marketing at Haven Life, also joined the panelists to discuss the organization’s focus on providing accessible coverage for all. 

Next, Roger Crandall, Chairman, President & CEO of MassMutual, settled in for a candid fireside chat alongside two current Fellows: Daryll Odierna, Counsel, Insurance, Product & Marketing Operations, and Nicole Lim, Lead Counsel, Investments. Roger shared that he has no private office, an example of how, since he first joined in 1988, the company is “leaving behind the trappings of upward corporate movement” to focus on what matters most: people and culture.

At MassMutual, Roger said, that culture looks like “curious people who do things with integrity, treat each other well, and work collaboratively.” Roger engaged attendees as much as he did the panelists, answering and asking questions, sharing personal anecdotes, and eliciting laughter from the group.

The last session of the day was a roundtable with three LCLD Alumni at MassMutual: 2018 Fellow Tokunbo Akinbajo, 2016 Fellow Sahang-Hee Hahn, and 2017 Fellow Courtney Reid. After kicking off the chat with a game of two truths and a lie, where attendees guessed which was the lie, the Alums shared personal stories from their career journeys, experiences at MassMutual, and how their engagement with LCLD has impacted both.

LCLD extends a special thanks to LCLD Member Mike O’Connor; 2023 Fellows Daryll Odierna and Nicole Lim; 2022 Fellows Julie Shields and Marina Warner; 2019 Fellow Kady von Schoeler; 2013 Fellow Eleanor Williams; LCLD Diversity Professional Noell Tuesta; Tonya Bradford, Marcy Siegal, Christina Juhasz, Mary Beth McCartney, and all those who helped make this experience a success.

To view the group photo, click here.
To view the agenda, click here.